The Wait Game of Publishing

Publishing is a slow industry. It moves at a turtle pace, with random spurts of speed. It requires all your patience, and then some. It requires a thick skin.

It requires professionalism.

If you can’t handle the wait. If you can’t handle rejection. If you can’t handle constructive criticism (never mind the negative feedback you will undoubtedly be the recipient of), then you either need to learn how or get out.

Harsh. Yes. But true.

I actively sought out an agent for two years before being picked up. Two years and two manuscripts. Which means that my first manuscript collected rejection on top of rejection until I had combed through the list of agents I thought could be a match. And you know what? Two years and two manuscripts are nothing compared to what some authors go through.

And when you do land that mystical agent, guess what? You’re not going to be offered sight unseen. True story: when I first spoke with my agent on the phone I found out she’d been stalking me on twitter. That’s right, she checked my tweets, saw how I interacted with others. She decided that I was worthy of her time and that I was a potential client she could be proud of. She wasn’t going to sign me if I had been complaining about rejections, or how long an agent took to respond. She wasn’t going to sign me if I seemed impatient or difficult to work with. Because it’s not just her working with me, she needs to know that when she finds an editor for me, I’m not going to be difficult to work with.

The waiting doesn’t stop at the agent level. The waiting goes up to turbo level. Your agent will send your manuscript out on sub. And then neither one of you will hear anything for a long time. Weeks, maybe if you’re lucky. Months more than likely. Sometimes years. Your agent isn’t going to want you emailing every week asking for an update. Because there won’t be an update, your agent is just as in the dark as you are. It’s mind numbing and stressful and the reason why everyone says to work on your next project.

Because you never know which novel is going to be picked up. So having something new to work on, and a next project prepared, is always a good idea.

This post is stemming from some things I have seen in regards to Pitch Wars. Now, Pitch Wars is great for the waiting game. It’s only three weeks long! That means in three weeks, you have an answer. You are not stuck waiting for months or years. Just weeks. And there’s an entire community waiting with you! Plus mentors chatting and teasing. Who cares if they aren’t teasing about your baby, you’ve got an insight into what’s going on. That’s awesome. Agents and editors certainly don’t give you as much.

Bottom line: if you can’t handle the wait, you aren’t ready. And that doesn’t mean you can’t stress out about it or get frustrated. It does mean you behave appropriately on social media and keep your freak outs to your close writer friends. They get it. They’ll hold your hand and cheer you on, and you’ll do the same for them. And then you’ll go back to social media and smile sweetly as if there is no turmoil in your life. You don’t tweet about requests. You don’t tweet about rejections. You keep a positive and professional front.

I’ve had my freak outs. My husband reminded me how crazy stressful Pitch Wars was when I was a hopeful. I’ve had melt downs to my CPs. I’ve had melt downs to my agent. You won’t know about this by searching my social media. I mention it here without any specifics. Because it’s the specifics that are the problem. We all know how insanely stressful it is to be a writer. We know that we all have these moments. It’s how we handle these moments that separate those that are ready from those that are not.

Some Pitch Wars Stats

Pitch Wars is in full swing and many of us mentors are knee deep in glorious words, crying over the fact that we can only choose one! I’ve always found the behind the scenes stuff fascinating so I’m going to let you into a small look at what I’ve been working with.

I received 89 subs this year! That’s almost double from last year. Part of that is due to expanding my wish list, part of that is due to the sheer jump in numbers the overall contest received.

Here’s how those 89 subs broke down:

  • 16% were New Adult, the rest Adult with one YA I had to automatically remove.
  • 21% did not follow my wish list. (Sad panda)
  • Highest word count: 141K
  • Lowest word count: 45K
  • My genre breakdown. Note that I simplified some genres to make the chart less crazy. Also note that some marked Contemporary were really Contemporary Romance and I spotted them easily. Some of the Women’s Fiction did not appear to match my wish list (if you read my wish list, this isn’t you, don’t worry!)


To date I’ve read 827 pages and can usually tell within the first 2-3 if a story is right for me or not. That number read is actually higher since I read fulls on my kindle and don’t have all of those updated yet. And no, I do not read every full in complete. I read until I have enough to make my decision.

I did not get nearly as much diverse stories as I did last year, less for disabled characters. Makes me sad but could mean there weren’t as many participating. (more sad panda)

I’ve made requests (currently at 12%), founds some I’ve loved, some I’ve passed on to others (no stats, sorry, I’d have to sort through all I’ve mentioned and compare that with all I’ve sent, it’s not easy!), and some that I’m not the right person for. I am not done requesting. I’ve also received some subs from others that were not subbed to me.

Here’s a look into my actual notes in my spreadsheet. I write these for my own eyes only, not intending to share, so there’s no filter here. I’ve blanked out any areas too telling. These are also random places in my inbox. No, I will not share what the colors indicate.


I’ve found a lot of high quality stories in my inbox, so you should all pat yourselves on the back. I hope you all have been making connections with your fellow potential mentees. My core group of CPs (Critique Partners) have all come from contests, either directly or indirectly and I would be nothing without them.

In regards to feedback: I’m a feedback junkie. Love it, and when I was in the trenches I always craved it to help point me in the right direction (news flash, one opinion from one person is just that, one opinion, it might not be right for you, but three similar opinions require some consideration). Last year I sent out feedback to everyone who subbed to me. This year I am not going to have the time. If you are interested in feedback, please comment below or on twitter with your title and I will add you to my list. I cannot promise how prompt I will be, and for most of you it will only be a few lines, but I will get to it.

And that’s your tiny insight into what’s going on in my inbox.